A woman waiting for her lover to return, 12 years later
| The cloudy sky frowns down on the small shack, a young boy trotting from a woodpile to the porch. Setting down the wood by a worn old woman, he turns and retraces his steps. The woman is in and pair of jeans and shirt, both of which have several paint or soot stains on them. Glancing up she wearily watches every vehicle that zooms past the small house. Sighing in despair she retreats back into her novel with each disappointment.
A small car slides around the corner, slowing. The aged woman looks up, biting her lip, gripping her book she leaps to her feet in excitement as the car comes to a stop in the drive way. She jumps up, dropping her book, clasping her hands in sudden hope. Focusing on the driver, she crumples in another wave of depression to the porch.
In the small drivers’ seat is a young woman, mid twenties. Stepping out of her small car, the young woman focuses on first the young boy, and then the woman. Sighing in exasperation, she bends, careful of her short skirt, and picks up a wood piece. She picks her way through the weedy gravel path to the porch, and sets the wood on the small pile.
“Ms. Stan?” The young woman holds a thick portfolio to herself as she crouches in front of the woman, trying to look up into her eyes.
“Mmmh, yes, how can I help you?” Ms. Stans’ eyes flick from the portfolio to her boy, still carrying wood, and purses her lips slightly.
“Well, Ma’am, maybe we should go into the house?” The young woman’s head tilts to the boy, indicating the conversation should not be in front of him.
“Oh, yes. Of course. Ty, honey, we have enough wood to hold us for the next three days here, go, go play in town... I remember you wanted to catch crawdads.” Ty’s back straightens, his small frame brimming with energy, he itches to run down the two mile road. His face breaks into a large grin. The wind catches his hair slightly as he flies onto his bike, shoving the helmet on to his head as he speeds down the narrow wood road.
“Ms. Stan, I am dreadfully sorry to have to visit you, but I’m from the bank. You’ve been having horrible trouble meeting your payments...” The young womans’ voice, fades, having seen similiar situations before. Glancing around the yard, she sees it hasn’t been cut for at least three weeks. The pale yellow paint is chipping, the windows a dark dusty grey from various spider webs and dust.
“Yes, yes, I know. The check my daughter sent wasn’t enough... hasn't been for months...
but it will be soon, she knows I can’t survive on what she’s been able to send lately...” The mother leans forward, her hands gripping her knees, the nuckles a stark white. Her eyes flash a pale grey, her eyes wide in horror and anticipation. Breathing harder she drops her face into her hands, small sounds of despair leaking out.
The young woman reaches out a hand, caressing the womans’ dirty shirt, murmuring lightly. Her other hand fiddles with the hem of her skirt, fingering the fine grey tweed of her formal suit.
“I’m sure we can find a way to readjust the payments. It doesn’t look likely, but maybe we can help you keep the house for another year.... if not, there’s the cheaper apartments downtown, you could sell this, pay off your debts, and be able to pay your rent there.”
The Ms. Stans’ face jerks up, gripping the young woman’s hand in desperation, she forces the words out. “No, no, we can’t leave here! If we go someplace else, then Bob will never be able to find us, we’ve been waiting for him a dreadful long time, my dear. He has to be coming soon....”
Straightening, Ms. Stan dabs at her face, her cheeks the dark pink of long crying. “Would you like to come in? Have some tea?” Ms. Stans eyes flick towards the forbidding portfolio, and back to the young woman’s face.
“I would like to come in, but no tea, please. Don’t trouble yourself.” Standing stiffly back up, catching the hand rail, wavering slightly on her high heels. “Oh, I never did introduce myself, properly, that is. My name is Melanie Ruthbertson.”
“Ah, well, no trouble. Come in... Melanie.”
The inside of the half torn down house is darky and shady, dishes littered around the room. A small coffee table is in the middle of the room, with two rickety chairs beside it. Melanie carefully lowers herself into an aged chair, and sets the thick portfolio on the floor.
On the table is scattered a few pictures, yellowed with age. Flicking through them Melanies’ eyes wander back and forth from the woman’s face in the younger pictures and Ms. Stan. In the pictures, Ms. Stan is young, twenty maybe, and beside her stands a well built man, also rather young. Through out the various pictures, Ms. Stan’s stomach is exceedingly pregnant, probably around seven or eight months. “I take it these are pictures of you and Bob?”
Ms. Stan twisted, eying the pictures in Melanies’ hands greedily, gnawing her lip. “Yes, those are Bob and I. He was rather handsome, wasn’t he?”
Melanie wryly smiles, flicking through the various pictures. Turning a picture over, she squints at a date. “He left twelve years ago?”
“Yes.. he left when I became pregnant, with Ty. He said he needed to go get baby supplies... a cradle, some toys... said they would be much cheaper in the big cities.” Ms. Stan came around the counter, sitting down into the chair across from Melanie. Propping her elbow on the table, and smiles grimly, half lost in a world twelve and fifteen years ago. “Ty looks so much like Bob in his younger pictures...”
Melanie leaned forward on the table, focusing her eyes on Ms. Stans’.“Would you like me to find out where Bob is? What he’s doing?”
“Oooh... could you, really, do that? Find out where he is? What he’s been doing for so long, what’s held him up?” Ms. Stan’s hands are holding each other, tense in anticipation and joy, of perhaps finally finding her love again.
“Yes. Here, let me get it up...” Melanie leaned forward, pulled a laptop out of her portfolio, and clicked it on, setting it on the desk. Both breathe unevenly, waiting for the computer to boot up.
The slight glow flickers through the room as the screen comes alive, and Melanie type into an online source. “What’s his full name?”
“His full name? Oh, yes. Robert Kevin Camwell. We never were married, so the names never were changed...”
Melanie is flipping through various names, scanning them, typing in other information. “He was born in Brookings?” Melanie glances at Ms. Stan.
“Oh, yes, of course. We both were.”
Finally paring it down to three that fit the right age, birth place and name Melanie turned the laptop around the face Ms. Stan. Three pictures of middle aged men are on the screen. Scanning them briefly, Ms. Stan points to one, and nods sharply, a wide grin on her face, tears falling down her face.
Pulling the laptop towards herself again Melanie clicked on the picture. Scanning, quickly, her eyes fade, and slowly nibbles her lip. Going back and cross referencing it again, comparing the picture that Ms. Stan chose to the ones on the table, she nods slowly. “Ms. Stan, the man that you chose... if he is your Bob... died three years ago.”
Ms. Stans’ hands come to cover her face, shocked, as her eyes grow wider and wider. Barrying her face deeper into her palms her body quavers with the convulsions of the hidden fear expresses itself after so long.
Melanie flicks through the page some more, settling on a link to an epitaph. Clicking on the page, she began to read aloud.
Robert Kevin Camwell was born in 1972. He died two days ago from a fatal car crash...” Melanies’ voice dropped off, half frozen. Her eyes racing ahead into the words, her mouth pressed to a firm line.
“What is it? Tell me.... tell me... I must know!”
“Robert Conwell died with a wife, and two children, at the ages of five and three. They have another one expecting on the way.”
“Let me see... Robert would’ve never left me for another woman... never.... our love was so deep.... let me see that damned computer....” The words flood from her, raking her face, the tears flowing uncontrollably. As she takes the laptop her hands shake, and she’s breathing hard. Reading the words for herself, her lips moving, quivering with each syllabl. “No, no, no! God no! he never would’ve done that... never.”
Time passing, Ms. Stan sprawled on her kitchen table. Her hair even more harangued then before, her cheeks and mouth chapped skin from crying. Melanie is quietly behind her, a hand on a knee, the other on her back.
Propped with elbow on the table, Ms. Stan looks back at Melanie. Her eyes are swollen, red shot from excess tears. “I can’t do this.... I can’t live without Robert... he left me... I never would’ve thought...”
“Yeah, I know... but that’s over, now. you can go on, find another job. Move off this property, make things better for Ty.”
“No! No! I can’t, I just can’t.” Hauling herself up from the table, her hands wander in front of her as she goes to the kitchen. Finding a cupboard, she pokes around, and finds the bottle she wants. Pouring out a handful of pills, she looks at Melanie, “take care of Ty for me.”
Leaning back against the counter, she steals herself as she raises a hand to her mouth.
“This isn’t the way to get through this. There’s more to life then waiting for him... There’s Ty! He needs you!” Trying to pull the hand away from Ms. Stan’s mouth, Melanie screamed frantically at her. Melanies’ face crumples in desperation. The hand falls away, still holding the fistfull of dark pills.
A loud youthly whelp comes from outside, and the door is pushed open. “Mom? Mom? What are you doing?” Seeing her son, Ms. Stan crumples to the floor, tears again streaming her face. The pills fall to the floor around Melanie’s feet, her hands clawing the old lenolium.
“Ty, come here... come here.... I love you... your father is gone.... but you’re still here... and I love you.”
okay. to be honest, what i'm really worried about is that i've manipulated the main character. so my question to the reader is, did you feel that her actions, and character, esp at the end was real?
anyways, thanks. pipsqueek